My Corporate Journey – Yinka Ogundana – FrieslandCampina Wamco Nigeria PLC

Describe your current role, your key responsibilities and the most critical deliverables? What are the most important skills sets in achieving success in your role?

Currently as a Plant Manager, my role entails end-to-end responsibility, from raw materials to every form of resources required to produce quality dairy nutrition products for our consumers. This requires raw materials coming in at the right time in the right quality specifications, involving good manufacturing practice, and that the entire process runs at specific and set food quality standards and that are produced at the most minimal cost possible. I also ensure that these products are made readily available on-time-in-full (OTIF) at the right quality.

My critical deliverables entail ensuring we meet the market demand volume in the right product mix and that this is achieved at competitive conversion cost, reduced losses and right quality.

It is impossible to drive all these without people being engaged, motivated, coached and led. Some of the key skills required apart from process knowledge and high-level problem solving and decision-making skills, is to have courageous conversations and take courageous decisions. You need to lead your team beyond their limits, and you need to be convincingly able to communicate this to your team. Impossible does not exist!

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Tell us about your company

FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria PLC is Nigeria’s foremost leader in the dairy space and market leader, an affiliate of Royal FrieslandCampina in The Netherlands. For over 60 years, FrieslandCampina WAMCO has been providing high quality dairy products through its brands, Peak, Three Crowns and Friso; these brands have become household names. Over the years, we have defined our involvement in Nigeria by addressing three global challenges: nutrient security, sustainability and support for farmers.

At the heart of the Company’s operations in Nigeria is the passion to make quality dairy nutrition affordable and accessible, which is strongly rooted in the company’s mission statement of nourishing Nigerians with quality dairy nutrition. This mission is made possible by the company’s innovativeness and extensive distribution network across Nigeria.

FrieslandCampina WAMCO has continued to play a leading role in the production, processing, packaging, marketing and distribution of various milk products in Nigeria; being the pioneer of local manufacturing of evaporated milk and the introduction of fortified milk products in Nigeria.

Over the last few years, FrieslandCampina WAMCO has invested significantly in capital expenditure, including a new warehouse and a world-class Learning Academy to build capabilities across functions and to drive talent development. Recently, the company commissioned a state of the art plant for local production of Peak Yoghurt, which is directly linked to its highly successful dairy development program; a major investment that has been at the center of Nigeria’s backward integration in local milk sourcing over the last decade, with over 9,000 local farmers spread across 5 States in Nigeria

FrieslandCampina WAMCO recently completed the purchase of Nutricima’s dairy business in Nigeria.

Nutricima Limited was founded in Nigeria in 2005 and has earned itself consumer awareness within the dairy industry since then. FrieslandCampina WAMCO has acquired the company’s production facility in Ikorodu, Lagos State and the brands Olympic, Coast and Nunu, a range of powdered, evaporated and ready to drink milk products. These brands have a good presence across the Nigerian dairy market.

This acquisition underlines Friesland Campina WAMCO’s continued commitment to contribute to the development of the Nigerian dairy sector and satisfies the need for additional production capacity for FrieslandCampina WAMCO to meet the growing demand for locally produced evaporated and powdered milk by Nigerian consumers.

FrieslandCampina WAMCO aims to keep milk affordable in Nigeria, ensuring access to quality milk, fortified with the required nutrients; and enlightening consumers on how to make healthier choices and live an active lifestyle. Our Company will maintain its No.1 position as the nation’s leading milk manufacturing company by investing in its people, products and by being an excellent corporate citizen.

Briefly, what is the typical day like in your role and company? How does your company fit in with your career goals?

A typical day for me usually involves me spending quite some time on the production floor, ensuring processes are running smoothly, constantly engaging with the team, providing support and having a number of meetings to clarify activities are on track and most definitely to solve arising issues.

The vision and mission of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria is very clear and what drives it for me is affordable nutrition for all, most especially to the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) and we all know that MILK is nutritious and could serve as a complete meal; this knowledge drives me everyday I go to work.

What have been your previous roles before the current one? How important were those roles in shaping your current role?

I actually started my role as a management trainee in the company. After my confirmation, I became a Shift Production Manager in the Evaporated milk factory, and then I worked in the can making factory.

I then worked on a SAP implementation project for the entire company, after which I relocated to Europe and moved into continuous improvement in some sites in the north of the Netherlands. I came back to Nigeria, where I led a continuous improvement project that yielded over Euro 3 million savings in 3 years, while at the same time implementing performance control systems across the factories highlighting and enabling the right mind set and behaviour required to be world class.

With this success, I relocated to Europe within the business group to implement continuous improvement initiatives in some factories, this time south of the Netherlands. I eventually returned to Nigeria to lead one of our factories as the Plant Manager.

What have been the key turning points in your career? Have you ever had a change in career direction? If so, how did you handle the change? What lessons did you derive from this change?

Fortune favours the bold! I have taken some bold career steps that have turned out well for me. However, it took a lot of hard work, commitment, drive and a touch of the divine to eventually make a great story out of it all.

My move out of production into continuous improvement was not planned, I had just given a presentation and someone saw it and asked that I be on his team, and this was how I really moved into continuous improvement.

Some of the lessons I would like to share are these: Not all careers happen as per planned, however, the most important is this: whatever roles, task, responsibilities lie in front of you, ensure you immerse yourself in it, give it everything. Your best might not be enough, so stretch yourself and give it all it requires. In your stretching, you become made, once you conquer your space, your next-door will surely open.

Help people to grow, ensure you always add value, don’t waste company’s time, know who you are and be yourself.

What makes your role interesting? What do you enjoy most about your role? What has been the role of mentors and family in the achievement of your professional goals?

You can never copy-paste a day on the factory floor; it changes so fast and you need to keep up. In my role, quick decision-making is required 24 hours, 7 days a week; it could be quite exciting and challenging.

I have been fortunate to have few people with like-minds who have been able to counsel and guide me from time-to-time and this I have found to be pivotally beneficial. My family is always the covering I return to everyday and I look forward to going home, every day.

What challenges do you face in delivering on your current role and how do you overcome them?

I would say, the impact of the recent pandemic has increased the stakes, redefining global supply chain, foreign exchange availability, which have impacted on time delivery and cost of raw materials. As a team, we have ensured to retain a flexible work structure, and at the same time ensure we optimize production process at higher efficiencies.

What is the status of the sector in which you operate in the region and Africa and what do you think are the opportunities, challenges and market trends in the sector?

The dairy sector in Nigeria is huge and still growing, as we continue to have new entrants into the sector, most especially the milk powder segment. Clearly, opportunities exist, demand is there and has the potential to keep growing; even if impacted by the pandemic, the segment continues to thrive.

How do you wind down after a hard day at work? What are your personal hobbies? How do these hobbies contribute to your personnel and professional development?

I like to unwind with good music, watch an interesting movie or read a book or an inspiring story.

What are some of the personal or community activities you engage in to develop yourself or your community?

I currently engage in a global supply chain group with main ties with MITx, where ongoing engagements and discussions on course works and other supply chain topics and trends are done.

How can young people who may aspire to a career choice like yours plan their journey? What advice would you give them to succeed in their careers and life?

Be open minded, be willing to learn. I would like them to understand that no knowledge is wasted and advice them to give all to whatever they have in front of them, even if it’s not what had planned for or what they wanted to be. It is a phase and it will pass. Keep on stretching, stay humble, stay hungry, always.

What else would you want to do in the future? What would you want to accomplish in your career before you step away from the industry?

I believe I can still contribute my quota to continuously innovate manufacturing processes in the supply chain space in Nigeria and also globally, as well as impacting young minds to be purposeful leaders and aspire for greater heights.

This feature appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Food Business Africa. You can read this and the entire magazine HERE

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